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Hector RubinBy BERNIE BELLAN
On March 10 we received an email from someone in England by the name of Graham Finch. Here is what Graham wrote:

Good evening
I am contacting you from the UK, hoping that you can assist in my quest for information.
I have recently become the newsletter editor for the (RAF) 101 Squadron Association. My father was a navigator with 101 Squadron during WW2 and amongst the material he kept after the war were a number of operational map and navigation logs made in the course of operations over Occupied Europe.  (There are seven maps (which are quite large) and accompanying flight logs of missions to Lorient (2), Wilhelmshaven (2), Bremen, Cologne and Nuremburg.)
 These flights were all made from RAF Holme-on-Spalding-Moor around February 1943. ...He passed away in 1987, and it is only now that I have been able to go through these in more detail. It transpires that whilst the majority of these documents were his, there were a number from a different crew, that of F/Sgt Gillmore, whose navigator was P/O Rubin. As you can see from the attached newspaper clipping, he and his wife lived in Winnipeg and his parents were from Kamsack, Saskatchewan.
My quest is to find out if P/O Rubin (later Flight Lieutenant, DFC) has any living relatives in Canada who might be interested in being gifted these items. He had two brothers and I am unaware if he had any of his own children.
I don’t know if there is any way you can find out this information, but any assistance would be appreciated. He deserves to be remembered. He was unfortunately killed shortly before the end of the war on 21 March 1945 whilst flying with 419 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force, and is buried in a cemetery in Hamburg.
If this is not possible, then I can pass the material to 101 Squadron itself, who maintain a history room to display such items at their current base at RAF Brize Norton.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Kind regards, Graham Finch

Graham also attached the picture of P/O Rubin that appears with this article. Undernneath the photo, which Graham said came from the Winnipeg Tribune, was the following caption:


For “his great ability and resourcefulness” as an air navigator, PO. HECTOR BERNARD RUBIN, whose wife resides at 261 Bannerman ave., has been awarded the D.F.C., according to an announcement from Ottawa, Friday.
Son of Mr. and Mrs. Ben Rubin, of Kamsack, Sask., PO. Rubin has completed his first term of operations and is an instructor overseas.
Mrs. Rubin said Friday evening her husband had only mentioned one incident which might have resulted in the presentation of the award. On one operation he plotted a course to an American base when returning from a bombing raid. His judgment in guiding the plane to the U.S. post probably saved the damaged plane and its crew from destruction.
PO. Rubin, 26, joined the R.C.A.F. in January, 1941. During his training at Prince Albert, Dafoe and Rivers, he was near the top of the class in his studies.
Born in Kamsack, he attended Kamsack schools and later studied at the University of Alberta, and the University of Chicago. He has only one year to go before receiving his degree in chiropody.
He married the former Ruth Levine in January, 1942.
He has two brothers-Abraham, a commissioned officer in the American army, and Capt. Mitchell Rubin, R.C.A.M.C. recently returned from overseas.

Upon reading Graham’s email I reached out to Ellin Bessner. Ellin is a former CBC journalist who has been writing a book about Canadian Jewish servicemen (and women) who died during World War II. We had featured an excerpt from her upcoming book a couple of years ago, so I thought Ellin might be able to provide some help to Graham. Here’s what I wrote to Ellin:
Hi Ellin,
It’s been a while since we last communicated. I just happened to take a look to see whether your book about Jews who served in the Canadian military in WWII has been published, and I see it’s about to come out. I’d love to get a copy for review.
On another note I received a very interesting email from someone in England by the name of Graham Finch. His email follows. I wonder whether you might have any information about the individual to whom he refers in his email?
I’ll also post something in our March 28 issue of the paper about Flight Lieutenant Rubin. Perhaps that might elicit some responses from some of our readers.
Regards, Bernie Bellan

Here was Ellin’s immediate response to my email:
Hi Bernie. I happen to be up and correcting student essays and saw this so I am responding right away!
I can certainly help you about this since Hector Rubin’s story is a HUGE PART of my book, and I know all about him, and although his widow is not alive, her kids are alive and well and living in Calgary and Winnipeg.
I have interviewed them both. I know they would LOVE his artifacts.
I could write the story for you about them...or take an excerpt from my book when it comes out next week.
Let me know what you want me to do about the 101 Squadron person in England. I would love to see that stuff, too, as his last mission has been a source of deep guilt in the family all these years.
It is a heckuva story..one I should write for you.
Cheers, Ellin

I responded:
Wow! If you could send me the excerpt about Hector Rubin, I could intro it with the email from Graham Finch. Then I could explain that I was able to put Mr. Finch together with his widow’s children. Wouldn’t that be a great story? I’m assuming you’ll be responding to Mr. Finch.
And - by all means, in addition to the excerpt about Hector Rubin, I’d love to have a pdf of the book.
Thanks
-Bernie

In due course, Ellin did have her publisher send us a pdf copy of her book,  DOUBLE THREAT Canadian Jews, the Military, and World War II.

Here are two excerpts from the book that refer to Hector Rubin:
(from page 32)
The Jews in Prairie villages might have been isolated, but they were also ardent consumers of news: about the war, the situation of the Jews in Europe, and the movement to build a national home for Jews in Palestine. The geography fostered a uniquely strong Jewish cultural experience.
Rural families raised impressive sums of money for relief efforts for Jewish refugees and for settlements in Palestine. That strong Jewish identity was especially evident in Kamsack, Saskatchewan, which had a significant Jewish minority of one hundred residents. Despite its small size, Kamsack supported a combined ritual slaughterer/teacher/rabbi and a synagogue on Fourth Street.
In August 1941, the Canadian Jewish Chronicle ran an editorial praising Kamsack’s Jews and urging the rest of Canada’s Jewish community to follow their example. The writers described Kamsack as “a hamlet, such as Bialik wrote about, where the spirit of our people remains unadulterated, unawakened, strong with its pristine vigor.” The Canadian Jewish Congress put out a news release, noting the local Olfman family’s “proud record” with five sons in the military: Abe, Jack, Maurice, Hymie, and Shia. “Kamsack’s Jewish community of fifteen families has furnished 13 men to the Army and Air Force. This represents every eligible man of military age in the community,” the release said. A provided photo of the Olfman siblings in their uniforms was reprinted in newspapers across the country, including the Ottawa Journal.
The Canadian Jewish Congress even found it difficult to maintain a local branch in Kamsack to direct war efforts because the three top volunteers had themselves enlisted for active service in the RCAF: Iser Steiman, a doctor, A. Rabinovitch, a dentist, and Bernard Isman, a local lawyer. Kamsack again came to national attention in 1943, when Flight Lieutenant Hector B. Rubin won the Distinguished Flying Cross. Rubin had two older brothers in the service: Mitchell with the RCAMC and Abe, a podiatrist, serving in the U.S. Army. (emphasis mine – BB)

(from page 248)
Other widows also kept their memories of their first marriage locked away. Out of respect to her second husband, Maurice, Ruth Selby of Winnipeg stored the wedding photos from her earlier life with her sister, for safekeeping. “I think my father was particularly sensitive,” said Mindy Selby, one of the couple’s two daughters.
Ruth had married Hector Rubin, the RCAF navigator from Kamsack, Saskatchewan, when she was twenty-one. She was a widow by twenty-four. She and her second husband would eventually divorce. Near the end of her life, the photos of Hector reappeared and were placed in a prominent spot on her piano. “My mother never looked as happy in the years that I knew her as she did in those pictures,” said Mindy. “He was absolutely the love of her life.”
Ruth visited Hector’s grave in Germany, where his tombstone reads:
A son of Israel
Who gave their life
That others
Might cherish freedom.
She remained sad there was nothing like it here in Canada. A year after her death, daughters Mindy and Karyn placed a footstone at her grave in Winnipeg’s Shaarey Zedek Cemetery, just for Hector, a “Beloved First Husband.” “My mother felt like it was her fault, that if she hadn’t been pushing him to come home, that he wouldn’t have gone out with that crew that night,” Selby said, referring to the requirement for an airman to fly a certain number of missions before he was eligible for leave. “I think she always felt a little guilty about it.”

Post script: I asked Ellin Bessner whether Hector might have had any children with Ruth, but she replied that he didn’t.

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